Two spoons: Story digs into a real-life fairy tale

Max DePree in his book Leadership is an Art, writes, “Life is more than just reaching our goals. ... we need to reach our potential.” One of the ways I make my way to potential is through stories, not only reading them, but experiencing them.

It is what I have always enjoyed about fairy tales. They have a moral to the story, a moral we can think about and grow with on our way to potential.

This month I experienced a real life fairy tale. I call it “Two Spoons.” Its moral for me is how we view things. I told it orally several times. I came to observe that from the way people reacted it revealed what they believed.

“Two Spoons” is about two grapefruit spoons. Not just any grapefruit spoons, but my mother’s grapefruit spoons. They were in her home when she died. I suspect my wife is the one who claimed them. While once upon a time there may have been more of them, in more recent times there have been only two.

When my mother was alive, one fruit she never ran out of was grapefruit. Each time we visited her, it was a question I could count on, “How about a grapefruit this morning, Bob?”

I being a belligerent son, could only answer yes for so long. Then the question got old and too predictable. Eventually my answer of no became as predictable as her question.

A few years ago, and many years after her death, I read that eating a grapefruit before going to bed burns up fat. Wouldn’t you know it, for the past few years, I have eaten a half of grapefruit most every night before retiring.

I can no more eat grapefruit without a grapefruit spoon than I can eat sausage without horseradish. I begin my grapefruit eating regiment by going to our silverware drawer to look for a spoon. A month or so ago I noticed there was only one. I looked in the dishwasher to no avail, and then asked Susan where could they be. She gave a complete search, but with no success.

A few weeks later, I went to get the remaining spoon and it was gone. Same procedures unfolded after which Susan said, “I guess you will have to use a knife.”

Days later, after cutting up the grapefruit so it would fit and dissolve in our garbage disposal, I went to put on the rubber cap that keeps the garbage from flying up in our face. It was gone. Another search with no favorable outcome.

A few days later I reached for a flavored soda water bottle in the refrigerator and saw its label had been peeled off. I never peel labels off of anything. I asked Susan if she did and she said no. I swear I put it in label intact.

I may be the only one to view these events as connected. Whether you can or cannot get yourself there, it matters not to me. I want to know what is going on. I have told this story in at least three settings and asked for explanations.

I have received several possible solutions, one of which requires extraordinary belief. I am hoping to hear yours. Email me at

So far, in addition to opinions on what happened, I have been given five grapefruit spoons and two grapefruit. It is this follow up from people who care that qualifies this as a story of bliss. Once upon a time....

Bob Ritchie is pastor of Bennington Congregational Church and a regular contributor.

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